A poem by St John of the Cross

"I came into the unknown and stayed there unknowing rising beyond all science. I did not know the door but when I found the way, unknowing where I was, I learned enormous things, but what I felt I cannot say, for I remained unknowing, rising beyond all science. It was the perfect realm of holiness … Continue reading A poem by St John of the Cross

Stories for Mystics

Stories are fairly foundational to different Christian traditions so I think it’s worth reflecting for a moment on the stories that have been most important to Christian mysticism over the centuries. Stories that are most frequently referenced include Jacob’s ladder, Moses and the burning bush, Moses receiving the ten commandments, the throne visions of Isaiah … Continue reading Stories for Mystics

Mysteries versus Secrets

My practice is focussed on the mysteries of God far more than the secrets of God. What’s the difference? A secret is something knowable, but known to only a few insiders. By way of contrast, a mystery is something that’s simply unknowable. In practice it is like this. Knowing secrets only inflates my ego. Knowing … Continue reading Mysteries versus Secrets

Thoughts which words can’t express

From the Sayings of the Desert Fathers: One day Abba Arsenius consulted an old Egyptian monk about his own thoughts. Someone noticed this and said to him, ‘Abba Arsenius, how is it that you with such a good Latin and Greek education ask this peasant about your thoughts?’ He replied, ‘I have indeed been taught … Continue reading Thoughts which words can’t express

Incommunicable experience

As it is impossible to verbally describe the sweetness of honey to one who has never tasted honey, so the goodness of God cannot be clearly communicated by way of teaching if we ourselves are not able to penetrate into the goodness of the Lord by our own experience. (St. Basil the Great, Conversations on … Continue reading Incommunicable experience

God’s Ineffability – Ron Rolheiser

God's Ineffability - What's Reveiled in Jesus' Eyes?   Ron Rolheiser God, as I understand him, is not very well understood. A colleague of mine, now deceased, was fond of saying that. It’s a wise comment. Anyone who claims to understand God is deceived because the very first dogma we have about God affirms that God … Continue reading God’s Ineffability – Ron Rolheiser

Alexei Ospipov on the limits of experience and the knowledge of God

Is it really possible to deny God only because everyday experience does not give Him to us? But we know that “everyday experience” is in no way absolute, that it encompasses only some superficial sides of events and phenomena, that plain common sense is limited, and that there are many irrefutable facts which do not … Continue reading Alexei Ospipov on the limits of experience and the knowledge of God

Preaching the gospel apophatically

"The limitation of theology and language, let alone of speaking about God, indicates that preaching is not just the verbal proclamation of the gospel in the pulpit but also the need for ritual, living and solidarity. It incorporates these significant elements not in a compartmentalized but in an integrative and holistic whole." Preaching The Gospel … Continue reading Preaching the gospel apophatically

YHWH, a God of darkness and mystery as well as light and illumination

In western Christian art the living God is often associated with light, but a review of the Old Testament reveals a far more complex picture. For the God of Israel and everything else is associated with both darkness and light by the prophets. Here are a few examples that illustrate what I mean. God is … Continue reading YHWH, a God of darkness and mystery as well as light and illumination